Libor manipulation

Updated: Oct 6 2012, 07:03am hrs
While authorities in Europe, Japan and the US investigate the suspected rigging of the London Inter-bank Offered Rate (Libor), where banks were low-balling submissions of rates for the benchmark after the global financial crisis, a global survey finds that institutional investors were the worst affected by the rate manipulation.

The global survey carried out by CFA Institute, with 21,000 participants, found that a majority said that the most appropriate methodology for setting the Libor would be an average rate based on actual inter-bank transactions only. Almost half of the respondents think using estimated rates would be acceptable if the inter-bank market becomes very liquid, with a higher proportion of those in Asia Pacific. Libor is the interest rate at which banks can borrow funds from other banks in the London money market. The rate is fixed on a daily basis by the British Bankers Association. Countries that rely on the Libor for a reference rate include the US, Canada, Switzerland and the UK, and the interest rate benchmark is used for financial products ranging from loans to derivative contracts globally valued at $360 trn. The manipulation started in 2005 and continued till 2009. The Financial Services Authority of the UK has fined Barclays a record 290 million ($450 million) for submitting false rates for Libor.

A majority of respondents feel that the Libor submission process should become a regulated activity and more than half say Libor should be administered and overseen by industry bodies subject to regulatory oversight. The majority also feel the regulator should have power to pursue criminal sanctions over Libor manipulation. About 32% of the respondents feel that indices based on repo rates would be a viable alternative to Libor.